How the coronavirus is affecting sports leagues and events

The Tokyo Olympics are postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
(Charly Triballeau / AFP via Getty Images)

Sports leagues and federations across the world addressed the coronavirus outbreak by suspending seasons and canceling play.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed and rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8, 2021. Wimbledon has been canceled. So has the Little League World Series.

All major North American sports leagues, including MLB, the NBA, MLS and the NHL have suspended the playing of games as the virus spreads around the world. The NCAA canceled March Madness, and many other major events, including the Masters, the French Open and the Boston Marathon, have been postponed. The British Open has been canceled.


Here is a sport-by-sport look at what leagues and federations have done to address the COVID-19 pandemic:

NBA: The league suspended the season indefinitely after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus March 11. No decision has been made on when play might resume. The league allowed to re-open their facilities beginning May 8 — but only if they’re in a state with relaxed or no stay-at-home orders and only for individual workouts under specific restrictions.

MLB: Major League Baseball suspended spring training indefinitely and delayed the start of the regular season in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Owners gave the go-ahead May 11 to making a proposal to the players’ union that could lead to the coronavirus-delayed season starting around the Fourth of July weekend in ballparks without fans. MLB officials are slated to make a presentation to the union May 12.

NFL: The NFL’s annual meeting in late March, which is attended by team owners, general managers and coaches, was canceled. The league banned teams from making in-person visits with draft-eligible players but held the draft as scheduled April 23-25, with commissioner Roger Goodell and everyone else involved participating remotely from their homes. In addition, no international games in London or Mexico City will be part of the NFL’s 2020 schedule.

NHL: The league suspended its season indefinitely March 12 and has postponed the draft and postseason award show. On May 26, the NHL unveiled its plan to complete the 2019-20 season, confirming a 24-team restart format that wouldn’t include the Kings or Ducks. The plan calls for the season to restart no sooner than July and move directly into a qualification stage for the postseason, with games set to be held at two yet-to-determined “hub” locations in NHL markets.


NCAA: The NCAA announced March 12 that it would cancel the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments over concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak. All other remaining winter and spring championships also were canceled. The Pac-12 announced March 12 it is canceling all athletic competitions involving its teams until further notice. The NCAA Division I Council voted May 20 to lift a moratorium on voluntary workouts by football and basketball players effective June 1 as a growing number of college leaders expressed confidence that fall sports will be possible in some form despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

MLS/Soccer: Professional soccer in the U.S. was put on hold indefinitely in March. U.S. Soccer canceled friendlies involving the men’s and women’s teams as well as youth national team training camps. CONCACAF suspended all competitionsMLS teams have resumed limited training in the hopes of restarting this summer. The National Women’s Soccer League will hold a 25-game tournament in two Utah stadiums starting in June. No spectators will be present.

WNBA: The 2020 season, which was scheduled to start May 15, was postponed indefinitely on April 3. The league’s draft took place remotely April 17.

High schools: The CIF announced March 12 the cancellation of the state basketball championships. The spring sports season was canceled April 3.

XFL: According to multiple reports, the league suspended day-to-day operations on April 10 and laid off all of its employees. Three days later, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The moves came after the XFL informed players March 12 that the remainder of the 2020 season will not be played because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NASCAR: All races through May 9 were postponed. NASCAR resumed its season without fans starting May 17 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. NASCAR’s first wave of races in its comeback totaled seven national events over 11 days.


NHRA: The drag racing series was suspended in mid-March. It currently plans to resume its 2020 schedule June 5-7 with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. The season has been trimmed from 24 to 19 races.

IndyCar: The series will open its season with a night race at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6. No fans will be in attendance. The Grand Prix of Long Beach is among the races canceled for this year. The Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend has been rescheduled for Aug. 23 and the Detroit Grand Prix on May 30-31 has been canceled. The season was originally scheduled to start March 15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

PGA/Golf: The British Open, scheduled to be played in July at Royal St. George’s in England, has been canceled. The Masters, which was originally scheduled to be played in April, is tentatively rescheduled for Nov. 12-15. The PGA Championship is scheduled to take place Aug. 6-9 and the U.S. Open is set to be played Sept. 17-20. All events on the PGA calendar have been canceled or postponed through June 11.

A look at athletes, coaches and others in the sports world who have tested positive of the coronavirus.

May 22, 2020

LPGA: The LPGA has pushed back the start of its season to July 15. The ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, originally scheduled for April 2-5, has been rescheduled for Sept. 10-13. The Women’s PGA Championship, originally slated for June 23-28, has been rescheduled for Oct. 6-11. The Kia Classic (March 26-29), Lotte Championship (April 15-18), L.A. Open (April 23-26) and the Mediheal Championship (April 30-May 3) have been postponed.

UFC: The mixed-martial arts league returned with three events in Florida within an seven-day period, starting with UFC 249 on May 9, which was originally scheduled for April 18. Two events are scheduled for Las Vegas, including UFC 250 on June 6.

Horse racing: Golden Gate Fields in Northern California was given permission by the Alameda County Health Dept. to re-open starting May 14. Racing will be without spectators and only essential personnel. There will also be strict health and safety protocols. Santa Anita reopened May 15 under the same circumstances. Both tracks are owned by the Stronach Group. Currently, Los Alamitos is the only horse racing in the state.


Boston Marathon: After initially postponing the April 20 event until Sept. 14, the 2020 race was canceled May 28. Organizers said Thursday that they instead will have a “virtual event” in which participants who verify that they ran 26.2 miles on their own will receive their finisher’s medal.

U.S. Open of Surfing: An annual event in Huntington Beach since 1959, the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing on June 15. It had been scheduled for Aug. 1-9. The event will return in 2021, organizers say.


International Olympic Committee (Tokyo 2020 Olympics): The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed and rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8, 2021.

Premier League: The English Premier League’s official broadcasters say the competition will restart on June 17. The BBC and Sky Sports say there will be a doubleheader on that day with Manchester City playing Arsenal and Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United.
The last match was played on March 9.

Bundesliga: The German soccer league (DFL) suspended its season March 13, but the league announced on May 7 it will resume play May 16 with no spectators present. German soccer league managing director Christian Seifert says the the league will resume where it left off in its season.

Ligue 1: French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on April 28 that “the 2019-20 season of professional sport won’t be able to resume.” The top two divisions in French soccer both had 10 league games left to play. Paris Saint-Germain has been declared league champion.

Serie A: Italy’s sports minister suspended all sporting events in country until the end of April, but Premier Giuseppe Conte said teams can resume training May 18. However, several regions in the country are allowing players to practice at training centers on an individual basis. The league is hoping to resume play in June. Several Serie A players have tested positive for the coronavirus.


La Liga: The Spanish league suspended all play on March 23. It hopes to restart on June 12. Players must undergo COVID-19 testing and observe safety measures instituted by the league and the the government in order to train on practice fields.

Liga MX: Professional soccer in Mexico was suspended indefinitely March 16 and canceled for the season on May 22. The season will concluded for the first time without crowning a champion.

Champions League: The league suspended play March 13.

Asian Football Confederation: World Cup qualifiers in Asia were postponed until at least September, although the matches could take place as scheduled if all relevant parties agree.

Tennis: Wimbledon has been canceled. The French Open has been postponed from its normal May start until Sept. 20-Oct. 4. The U.S. Tennis Assn. “is not at this time implementing any changes in the schedule” regarding the U.S. Open. However, it has not ruled out postponing the event, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 24 through Sept. 13. Several WTA and ATP events through June 7 have been canceled, including high-profile tournaments in Madrid and Rome. Women’s tournaments in Strasbourg, France, and Rabat, Morocco, and men’s events in Munich, Germany; Estoril, Portugal; Geneva; and Lyon, France, have been canceled.

The International Olympic Committee is not commenting on what might happen to the Olympic Games if the coronavirus remains a problem next year.

April 2, 2020

World Figure Skating Championships: The health minister of Quebec, Danielle McCann, announced March 11 that the competition, scheduled in Montreal from March 16-22, has been canceled.

Korean, Japanese and Chinese baseball leagues: The Chinese Professional Baseball League became the first major professional baseball league in the world to begin its 2020 season, albeit without spectators. The Japanese baseball league postponed the start of its season, which had been scheduled to begin March 20. The league had been playing exhibition games with no spectators. The South Korean league has been playing in intrasquad and exhibition games for several weeks and is scheduled to start its season May 5 without spectators.


Canadian Football League: Canadian Football League Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said it’s likely the 2020 season will be canceled. In testimony to a the Canadian House of Commons standing committee on finance on May 7, Ambrosie said the league’s future is “very much in jeopardy” and that teams collectively lost about $20 million last year. The CFL has requested up to $150 million Canadian in assistance from the government. The CFL, which was scheduled to kick off the regular season on June 11, won’t start until July at the earliest.

Formula One: The Austrian Grand Prix will hold two races to begin the 2020 series with eight events in Europe, governing body FIA said in a statement Tuesday. The Red Bull Ring in Spielberg will host races on July 5 and 12. The next race will be in Hungary on July 19 followed by consecutive races at the British GP at Silverstone on Aug. 2 and 9 after the British government exempted elite sports from an upcoming quarantine on foreign visitors.

Further races are scheduled for Spain on Aug. 16 and Belgium on Aug. 30, with Italy completing the European swing on Sept. 6.

Cycling: The Tour de France, which was scheduled to begin June 27, has been postponed, and will now start on Aug. 29. The Giro d’Italia is set to run from Oct. 3-25 and overlap with the Spanish Vuelta, which starts on Oct. 20.

International Ice Hockey Federation: The women’s and men’s world championships were canceled. Switzerland’s national hockey league canceled its season March 13 and will not have a champion first time since 1940.

Kontinental Hockey League: The league has given up on trying to reschedule its playoffs and canceled the remainder of the season March 25. The Russia-based KHL was due to play its conference semifinals when play was suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak. It will not name a champion for the 2019-20 season.

MotoGP: The season, originally scheduled to start March 8, has been pushed back to August.

World Cup Skiing: The competition’s finals in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, scheduled from March 18-22, were called off after an emergency International Ski Federation board meeting.


Times staff writers Kevin Baxter, Tania Ganguli, Helene Elliott, Nathan Fenno, Bill Shaikin and John Cherwa contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed.